Shell's report on gas flaring "a compilation of half truths," says activist

The Executive Director of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (ERA/FoEN), Nnimmo Bassey, has described the 2011 Sustainability Report by Shell as “a compilation of half truths.”

As a result, Mr. Bassey called on the Federal Government to demonstrate genuine commitment to ending gas flaring in the Niger Delta by immediately shutting down platforms that still flare gas in the region.

Shell’s Sustainability Report for 2011 revealed that it emitted as much as 6.1 million tonnes of carbon dioxide into the Nigerian environment during oil and gas operations.

The report added that while it made progress in reducing flaring globally in the year under review, 80 per cent of continuous flaring took place in Nigeria.

Shell, in the report, blamed the security situation in the Niger Delta and lack of government funding for the slow construction of gas gathering infrastructure.

Mr. Bassey said that the report shows gross violation of the environmental and community rights on one hand, and yet, carefully crafted words by the company’s officials to absolve it from liability.

“This is not only shameful and outrageous. Shell has, by its own admission of increased flares in the Niger Delta indicated it is taking the community people who carry the burden of its operations on a roller coaster ride, spiced with sloganeering on mammoth sums deployed to ending gas flaring through so-called gas gathering infrastructure,” said Mr. Bassey in a statement issued in Lagos.

“Shell’s admission that its overall energy efficiency for the production of oil and gas in the upstream business worsened in 2011 confirms fears that oil companies are the major drivers of global warming. 

“It is alarming that the company is yet to apologise for the massive environmental rights abuses occasioned by its activities in the Niger Delta. It is time the company admits that its own negligence is responsible for the loss of ecosystems, lives and livelihoods in the Niger Delta,” Mr. Bassey added.

A section of the report claimed that Shell applied more gas-gathering equipment and more controls to sites with higher levels of gas associated with oil production. 

Mr. Bassey faulted the claim insisting that the increased flares were a clear indicator that the Shell has only been “engaging in image whitewash on gas gathering infrastructure while pretty little is actually on ground.”

 “We are demanding as a right that the platforms and flow-stations flaring gas be sealed off and an environmental audit be carried out to ascertain the overall hazardous impacts of oil industry operations have had on humans, plants, animals and the entire Niger Delta environment,” said Mr. Bassey.

Mr. Bassey noted that the Nigerian government had continued to ignore the cries of the Niger Delta people that it enforces the deadline on gas flaring initially set for January 1, 1984; stressing that government must adequately penalize firms that flare in contravention of a subsisting court order by Justice V.C Nwokorie of the Benin Federal High Court which, on November 14, 2005 which declared gas flaring illegal.

“Government must be transparent and honour agreements legitimately entered into with other parties in the sector,” he said.

“Leaking pipes must be replaced. Gas flaring must stop. We refuse to accept Shell’s penchant for blaming local community people for its leaking and ill-maintained facilities. It must take responsibility for the massive pollution in its downstream and upstream operations. 

“It is the responsibility of the Nigerian government to make it own up, pay up, and remediate our environment. The 2011 Sustainability Report vindicates our position that oil operations in Nigeria are patently unsustainable,” said Mr. Bassey.

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